Interesting that only 2 Ukrainian passengers were on board. So apparently the route mainly caters for ethnic travel of people with Iranian heritgage living abroad as a lower cost alternative to the various legacy flag carriers serving Tehran
I had seen this route in some "bargain-finder" websites on recent years. It was not uncommon (along with Pegasus) to offer Western Europe - KBP - IKA for 200 EUR return or less. And that a few years ago when things in Iran were "improving" with the West. Now there is probably less demand.
I suspect that Canada-Iran is not that cheap in general (at least compared to the US), so this was clearly the low-cost option. The only ME3/EU carriers that serve both Canada and Iran are Austrian (if we count Air Canada flying to VIE; dunno if they connect on this route), Emirates, Lufthansa (FRA), Qatar, Turkish and Ukraine. So there is really not much choice.
A carrier like Emirates can offer YYZ-DXB-IKA but 1) YYZ-DXB is quite limited in frequencies (so no need to give tickets away; they can "choose" higher paying passengers and 2) DXB-IKA is a very large O&D market, so no need to give tickets away either. UIA on KBP-IKA was clearly not the case relying only on connecting passengers, and very likely UIA could command higher fares on something like IKA-KBP-YYZ than IKA-KBP-JFK as the US has more competition (ME3, EU3, etc.)
If anything I am surprised there were no European tourists (as it seems for instance the 3 British nationals were of Iranian origin). On the other hand, I reckon with the late news coming from Iran, fewer tourists go there. And anytime I have seen some Iran tour on travel agencies in Europe, they always fly LH/TK/QR/EK. Something like UIA is probably too "exotic" for a traditional Western European travel agency.
Last edited by SCQ83
on Wed Jan 08, 2020 8:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.